Wednesday, June 6, 2012
On God’s Acres in Loreauville, St. Joseph Catholic Church has A. Hays Town written all over it.
The huge white columns. The brickwork. The tall windows and cypress shutters. The careful work of the main front doors. That certain tone of white paint.
And it should, because Town was the architect of the church, initially constructed in 1960, that by Christmas, or early next year at the latest, should be completed.
“The idea of one of his buildings being unfinished, you know, there’s something wrong about that,” says the Rev. Buddy Breaux. “When I got here as pastor, most of the parishioners didn’t even know that their church wasn’t finished. You think about it, 50 years go by and most of the parishioners were either not born or kids then. It was their parents and grandparents who built the church.”
When the Rev. Breaux came to Loreauville four years ago, he brought with him not only a priest’s collar but two years as an architectural student at UL Lafayette. He also had a lot of construction work in his background before becoming a priest.
“I think I was the right fit,” says Breaux. “I have to believe that God puts people in certain places for a reason. Whether he called me to be the guy to do this, I don’t know,” he says. “But I know I’m elated about it to see it done. I plan on getting up there with the carpenters and tearing the ceiling down and doing what ever needs to be done.”
Just getting this far has taken three years of “thinking about the possibilities, getting the word out, letting the idea seep into the parishioners’ minds,” the priest adds. And after several meetings, “we finally made the decision, as a parish, to go ahead with the project.”
A few months ago, enough funds were raised that the Diocese of Lafayette gave the go ahead to get started.
“And we’re going to continue to raise money until any remaining debt is paid off,” Breaux says of the $1 million job.
“It’s been a long journey, I guess,” says Billy Guidry, a St. Joseph parishioner and member of the parish council, who credits Breaux with properly framing the issue. “I think it was good the way that Father put it: ‘We’re not renovating. We’re not remodeling. We’re completing the church.’ So I think that kind of raised a couple of brows and put things in perspective.”
While the perspective was in place, the blueprints for the church were not. The church and the Lafayette Diocese did not have a copy of the blueprints, and neither did Town Construction. “I was told they really only kept residential sketches or drawings. They never kept many commercial buildings,” says Guidry. “So we kept hitting a dead end.”
Until, that is, an issue with the footings of the church columns came up and engineer Ted Habetz, another parishioner, found a couple of blueprints in his office that had “just what we needed to complete the columns, the ceiling and the molding detail,” says Guidry. The blueprints also included close-ups of the light fixtures and the altar.
In order to finish the job, the drop ceiling inside the church will be replaced with a high arching one. The fluorescent tubes will be swapped out for appropriate hanging light fixtures. And the steel beams will become columns.
In the meantime, all three buildings associated with St. Joseph’s have been registered with the Historical Foundation of Louisiana, complete with bronze A. Hays Town plaques, says Guidry, who is also a student of Town’s work.
A couple of generations ago, the work at the church came to a halt in 1960 when the funding ran short.
“I think Hays Town got to a stopping point and said we can stop now and cut the costs,” says Guidry. “I guess he just got to a point and said that if finances are an issue, let’s stop here and we can revisit this at a later date. He did that with a lot of his residential clients as well.”
A priest at St. Joseph’s apparently knew Town and asked him to design the church. The stained glass windows and the altars were salvaged from the previous church some say was taken down by a fire. The church hall went up in the early 1950s: “You can tell it’s a little on the early style of his work,” says Guidry. The church itself was constructed from 1958-60.
“And the last structure I’d feel was more of his recent work,” says Guidry of the living quarters. “That was done in the ’70s.”
And now within a year, A. Hays Town’s project can see the light at the end of a 50-year-long tunnel.
“It’s exciting to be a part of this, you know, 50 years later,” says Guidry, who was baptized at St. Joseph’s. “I guess at my age, with my passion with Hays Town’s work, I just felt like it’s surreal that I’m from a town where he did three of the main structures, so I feel very connected to it.”
“It’s just very fulfilling and satisfying to know that for future generations these people will be so proud,” says Breaux. “That in itself is enough for me. I’ll be long gone and I’ll know that the work I helped bring about here will be enjoyed for generations, and I love that.
There’s more to raising money than asking
Fundraising consultant Andree Gonsoulin has a few ideas.
Andree Gonsoulin, a fundraising consultant, came on board for the St. Joseph Catholic Church in January and stayed around for about three months to help garner the $1 million to finish its ceiling.
Gonsoulin says she organized church ambassadors to go out into the community to raise funds for the work and she showed them how to do it. “I come in and help frame the message and timeline and train the folks who are going to be out there asking directly for the money,” she says. “I helped coordinate their efforts and gave them the materials they’d need and trained them and moved them forward on that process.”
The original fundraising campaign for the church was called God’s Acre, according to Gonsoulin. In the late 1950s, local farmers donated an acre’s worth of profits from their land that year to build the church. Now their offspring are donating time and money to finish it. “And some of those farmers whose fathers were in the original group are now actively working on the campaign as well,” she says. “It’s like this group of people is finishing the project their parents started.”
Such a generational fundraising campaign is unique for Gonsoulin. “I’ve never really seen something like this particular project,” she says. “It’s really neat because they’re calling this the completion campaign because they are literally completing the church.”
Gonsoulin has been involved with fundraising for other churches, including Our Lady Queen of Peace, which burned in 2010 in Lafayette, and Our Lady of Wisdom on the campus of UL Lafayette.
She says a fundraising campaign’s tactics vary with the objective. “It’s usually different. A political campaign is a lot less personal. Obviously, fundraising is a highly personal thing because people are giving toward something they believe in,” says Gonsoulin. “But for the churches, you can tell that the people who are raising the money have the greatest memories of their lives in these buildings — the communions, the weddings, the funerals — those moments they have in those buildings, so they have a very personal feeling toward them and keeping them up, or rebuilding them or finishing them.” — DM
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider on Tuesday a revised plan to the transform a block in Downtown Lafayette into a mixed-use residential-retail-commercial development that doesn’t include giving title to the property to the Lafayette Public Trust Finance Authority, an arrangement the council rejected earlier this month.
Trying to combat the national undertones of Louisiana's U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is traveling the state this week on a sort of pork celebration tour, telling voters about the projects and aid she's delivered to Louisiana.
Ever thought that big, pink Gulf coast shrimp you ordered at the restaurant or bought from the store didn't taste juicy or salty enough? Maybe it wasn't from the Gulf.
The state treasurer won't sign financial documents needed for $200 million in borrowing or for a refinancing of existing debt until he believes they accurately explain the surplus disagreement.
Homecoming outfits with ease
Acadian style home in St. Martinville or traditional Breaux Bridge home
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Bill Cassidy voted for 97 percent of the bills signed by Barack Obama.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is joining South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on her campaign bus tour.
A New Iberia man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 4-year-old girl and scalding her 3-year-old brother.
A district judge decided Wednesday against sanctioning attorney/school board candidate Dawn Morris for her behind-the-scenes role in a lawsuit against Mark Cockerham.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
San Fran wins the World Series; Sistine Chapel improvements; Kurds moving toward Syria and more national and international news for Thursday, October 30, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Paper cites the former ADA's "experience as a prosecutor, his demonstrated integrity, and his ideas for reshaping the [DA's] office" in urging voters to support Keith Stutes Nov. 4.
Louisiana officials have sent a letter to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene un-inviting members of the group who have recently been to ebola-affected West African countries from attending the group’s annual conference in New Orleans next week.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have to find a way to win on the road if they plan to take over first place in the NFC South.
"It is obvious that Louisiana economic performance has not outperformed the South or the United States as a whole and, in fact, has substantially underperformed..."
A state district judge said he will rule Friday on a preliminary injunction to keep some charter schools from receiving $60 million through Louisiana's public school financing formula.
Saints fans were to gather, make merry, eat/drink compliments of a new Downtown group and watch the Saints beat Carolina and claim 1st place in the NFC South. But...
Three bedroom traditional or four bedroom traditional in Lafayette
Our fav dress for all seasons
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram doesn't see his dramatic spike in production as any sort of validation.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is facing off one last time with her two main Republican challengers before next week's election.
Shoppers familiar with Louisiana-based Rouses Market might be surprised when they walk into the new third location set to open at the Corner of Johnston Street and Duhon Road south the Acadiana Mall on Wednesday.
Noted architect and co-founder/principal of Architects Southwest receives highest honor given to former student.
Know an innovator, job creator and visionary with a penchant for hard work? We want to know that person.
He’s pulling for Knezek and Hidalgo on his end of the parish but issued endorsements in three other districts as well.